Why Have Flu Cases Dropped 95% According to the CDC?


Image credit to Wake Forest Law Review. Image modified from original.

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According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deaths due to influenza, pneumonia, or COVID-19 are declining since early September across the US. CDC stated in the Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report that the country’s seasonal influenza cases remain low. 

The latest data from Johns Hopkins University show that there are currently about 8,322,814 cases on COVID-19 positive listed in the US to date. A thorough review of the CDC data then raises doubt on its reported number. 

At the same time last year, 1,251 flu cases were reported to the CDC in weeks 40-41. When compared to previous years, the number is about average. This doesn’t seem to be the case for this year, at least as per the CDC report. Only a total of 60 flu cases were seen in the same period. 

This raises several questions about the sudden drop in the cases.

Could the drop in the cases be because of proper hygiene such as the washing of hands and social distancing?

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Or a more propping question is if the patients are being misdiagnosed to have COVID-19. Could the hospitals then be reporting COVID-19 cases instead of flu cases? It could be noted that hospitals get more funds from the federal government relative to COVID-19.

The CDC data further reported 1.2 percent of patient visits during week 41 versus the national baseline of 2.6 percent.

“Nationwide, during week 41, only 1.2 percent of patient visits reported through the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet) were due to influenza-like illness (ILI). This percentage is below the national baseline of 2.6 percent,” said the CDC.

CDC explained the sudden plunge in the number of flu-cases might be related to the behavioral changer during the coronavirus pandemic. 

People have sought healthcare during the widespread pandemic, affecting behavioral change. CDC said that while outpatient ILI cases remain low, several people access the healthcare system in alternative settings.  

The CDC further stated, the number of flu cases may have significantly dropped, yet, the percentage of deaths in week 41 went up by 1.5 percent from a threshold of 5.7 percent to 7.2 percent. 

According to NCHS mortality surveillance data on October 15, 2020, 7.2 percent of the deaths during week 41 (week ending on October 10, 2020) were due to influenza, pneumonia, and COVID-19.

The said percentage was more than the epidemic limit of 5.7 percent for week 41.

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